Monday, June 29, 2015

Pecan Bars


This recipe comes from a cookbook that I've had for a VERY long time, Creme de Colorado, which is a Junior League of Denver cookbook.  Honestly, it is one of the best cookbooks I have in my cookbook library.  I bought it when my daughters were little, used it often then, and I still refer to it today. If I need a recipe for an occasion, I will often pick up this cookbook first. 


I'm sure you've had some version of a pecan bar at some time in your life but these honey-sweetened-caramel-mixed-with-loads-of pecans-on-a-shortbread-cookie-base bars are Irresistible!  Try to eat just one. They are not exactly diet friendly but for a special occasion, holiday or party they are worth every calorie!


If you like sweet and salty, you can also top them with a tiny pinch of flaky sea salt.


Whether your are hosting a 4th of July party or attending one, this is a quick and delicious dessert to share.  Just be sure to make plenty as they will disappear quickly. 


The garden is a display of flower fireworks right now! Every day I'm oohing and ahhing.

Happy Fourth of July and Happy Birthday to the U.S.A!  May those of you who celebrate the 4th with family, friends, or on vacation, have a safe holiday. Remember that Independence Day can be one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.  Please drive safely. 

Pecan Bars


Makes 24 bars

Crust

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened

Topping


3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the crust, mix the powdered sugar and flour together. Blend in butter until crumbly. Firmly pat crumbs onto the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. (I like to cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside bottom of the pan, then spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, such as Baker's Joy). Bake the crust for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stirring constantly, add the cream, honey and brown sugar until well mixed. Remove from the heat. Stir in pecans and spread the mixture over the hot crust. Return to the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes. As the bars are cooling, occasionally run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to separate the caramel from the pan. When completely cooled, cut into bars.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Herb and Garlic Breadsticks!



These bread sticks are so easy to make but what is even better is how delicious they are!  Last week, after a busy day which included of watching our grandson play baseball, I was looking for a fast and delicious dinner.  Off to Sam's Club to buy a rotisserie chicken (I like theirs the best).  Their artisan breads are located right next to the rotisserie chicken case and I picked up a package of herb foccacia and put it in my cart thinking they would taste delicious with the chicken.  I started thinking that I could probably make them at home and they would be much better so I put the package back.


At 3:00 I put all the ingredients in my bread machine and set it to the dough cycle.  At 4:30 the dough came out, was rolled, cut and allowed to rest another 30 minutes.  At 5:00 they went into the oven and by 5:30 we had warm, delicious, herb and garlic bread sticks!  They are brushed with a combination of Italian seasonings and coarse salt before going into the oven and brushed with the mixture once again after they are baked creating more buttery, herby goodness on the bread sticks. 




Just be warned - it will be hard getting them to the table without eating at least two yourself :)


Dads and busy little boys will love these!


Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!*

*Our son-in-law will be a father again next January :)  More fun times ahead for him, our daughter and for us!  Meanwhile, my garden container babies continue to grow...


Herb and Garlic Breadsticks

Adapted from More Bread Machine Magic
Printable Recipe

Makes 16 Bread sticks

Ingredients for double batch in parentheses

3/4 cup warm water (1-3/8 cup)
2 teaspoons warm butter or margarine (4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt (2 teaspoons)
2 cups bread flour (4 cups)
1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (2-1/2)

Herb and Garlic Topping:

Note:  The original recipe calls for just garlic and 1-2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan Cheese.  I adapted it to an herb topping, instead.  

2 tablespoons melted butter (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil (1/4 cup)
1 clove of garlic, minced (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried basil (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon coarse salt (2 teaspoons)

Place a piece of parchment paper to fit a half sheet baking pan. You may also use a silicone liner.

Please the ingredients in the bread pan of your bread machine. Select the dough setting and press Start. Alternately, you can mix the dough with a stand mixer with dough hook or food processor with dough blade.

When the dough has risen and the machine beeps, turn the bread out onto a lightly floured countertop or cutting board. (If you did not use a bread machine, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled).

With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 9 x 10 inches (2 rectangles for large batch)

Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet and cut the dough rectangle lengthwise into eight strips with a pizza wheel. Cut those strips in half again. Then cut the strips in half crosswise to create 16 bread sticks.

Separate the strips slightly. Then, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375F while the bread sticks are rising. Also prepare the topping mixture. Place mixture in microwave for about 20 seconds to melt the butter.

Just before baking, brush the bread sticks with half of the herb mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Brush with the rest of the herb mixture after removing from the oven.

These are best eaten the same day.